December 2016 – Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Christmas Tree

I hope that you have a relaxing break and share some good company over the next week or so. As we look back over the news of 2016 there is certainly a lot to think about and I expect 2017 to be just as ‘interesting’.

I received a newsletter from another IFA company a couple of weeks ago and they started by saying that they were not going to comment on Trump’s election because they operated a “value neutral” business and they went on to say that they did not express opinions beyond their (narrow) focus of investment. You will know that this is the polar opposite of where Interface has always positioned itself. For us values always come first and financial matters come second. We believe that there is little point to money unless you can use it to make a difference, whether that is to a single individual, or to create a charitable trust as one of my clients is currently doing. Schindler’s List provides us with a philosophy common to all great world beliefs: “whoever saves one life saves the world entire” — make a difference to one person and your life has been worthwhile.

Financial markets are value neutral but we don’t have to be. The first principle of our Investment Policy statement states: “Capital Markets work” which means that you will get a market return for your investment. Your investments are constructed so that you will receive a return over time and all you need to do is to relax and get on with your lives. Our investment strategy is constructed so that we operate as farmers and continually reap what we sow: we are not prospectors who gamble on finding the strike of a life time. A client said to me last month: “it is not the gold prospectors who get rich it is the shop keepers who sell picks and shovels.” Anyone who wants speculative investment is talking to the wrong company. Our strategy might be less ‘exciting’ but it gets results.

The Christmas break gives us time to reflect and hopefully you will share some precious time with your family and friends. It is those times when we remember what is important and think of our values and what we value. This is my Christmas letter and it is my intention to steer away from politics but I will comment on a discussion taking place this month about swearing an oath to British values. This discussion mentioned democracy and the Queen as being British values and while we have a strong belief in both they are not values; they may be something that we value but they are not values they are belief systems. It is the underlying values which provide the basis for these belief systems. For example neither of these belief systems would be supported without the values of equality and respect.

I recommend that you look at  and spend ten minutes thinking about your own values. My top ten values are: integrity, compassion, respect, contribution, honesty, trust, fairness, loyalty, sincerity, and equality. I think that some of the politicians promoting this oath would do well to take my values exercise themselves (though it might make some of them feel uncomfortable about their promotion of an oath to shared values!)

As we come up to Christmas I reflect on three of my dear clients who passed on this year and are no longer with us. I cherished their company and my thoughts are with their family and friends. I have been very lucky to have shared the last 26 years helping and advising some wonderful clients. I value your loyalty and friendship and I am looking forward to helping more and making a difference in your lives during 2017.

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